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MPs call for ‘declaration of famine’ in North Darfur

February 11 - 2018 EL FASHER
A woman farmer in Darfur (file photo)
A woman farmer in Darfur (file photo)

Members of the North Darfur Parliament have urged the local government to declare famine in the state. They criticised the authorities for their silence about the deteriorating living conditions and the growing corruption in the region.

About 1,000 people died from hunger and tuberculosis in El Hara and Ein Bassar, north of Jebel Meidob, during the past few months, MP Mahasin Abakar told reporters in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher last week.

She explained that in addition to bread, most people in El Malha locality cannot afford to buy sorghum any more, as the price of the native staple food reached SDG 2,000 ($ 110*) per 100 kg.

According to MP Hari Khamees Arbab school children in a number of localities go to the valleys in the morning to eat wild berries for breakfast.

Food gap

The MPs held a press conference on Thursday after discussing statements of the North Darfur Minister of Finance, Mohamed Yahya Hamid on the economic crisis and the measures taken by the Ministry to support the poorest in the state.

They called on the North Darfur government to immediately intervene to face the threat of famine in a number of localities, and take action to stop the corruption concerning the distribution of food.

In particular people in the northern and eastern parts of the state are hit by a food gap, they said. They further mentioned the shortage of electricity and fuel, and a significant decrease in services.

Suleiman Mukhtar, MP for El Taweisha constituency, pointed to the poor sorghum and millet harvests in the areas of Koraya Laban, Um Katkut and Jabir. He told the press in El Fasher they had notified the state government already in September that the agricultural season failed because of the poor rainfall.

MP Ali El Siddig stressed the rapid decrease in services in North Darfur, especially water and electricity. He accused the North Darfur government of being “too weak and too late to tackle the current economic crisis and ease the burden of living for the Sudanese”.

Corruption

The MPs further complained about the considerable manipulation and corruption by employees of the state Ministry of Social Affairs and members of the committees distributing relief goods.

This means that most of the poor are not supported by the Ministry, they said. Most of the sugar is sold on the black market.

The measures taken by the state government to ease the burden of living is “only ink on paper,” they commented. They called on the Ministry of Finance to control the prices of the basic commodities on the markets.

Price hikes

In early January, the Sudanese government implemented new austerity measures. In addition to increased levies and taxes imposed on traders and citizens, the customs rate of the US Dollar was raised from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18.

The prices of the main consumer goods immediately doubled or even tripled. As the government completely cut its wheat subsidies, the price of flour increased with 233 per cent. Bakeries began to sell smaller loafes of bread for double the price.

The rapid plummeting of the Sudanese Pound on the Khartoum parallel forex market continues. The US Dollar rate on the black market increased from SDG 28 (January 3) to SDG 42 (February 4).

Agricultural season

In December last year, members of Sudan’s federal Parliament warned for a food gap in the country. Poor rainfall in El Gedaref, Blue Nile, Darfur, and Kordofan states that year caused poor sorghum and millet harvests.

In addition, 25 per cent of the country's strategic crop stocks were damaged last year because of poor storage techniques.

MP Mahmoud Abdeljabar called for a stop on the export of strategic sorghum stocks, as “Consumers will not be able to afford the food prices.

“A sack of millet costs SDG1,200 and is expected to amount to SDG1,500 in the coming months,” he said. 


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